‘Naked & Afraid’ stars bitten by world’s most painful insect

The 13th season of Naked and Afraid kicked off on Sunday, with a couple of the show’s past all-stars trying to survive in an Ecuador rainforest with one of the most concentrated collections of predators in the world, both big and small. And that includes a little something known as fire ants.

And, unfortunately, both 40-year-old firefighter Fernando Calderon and 31-year-old EMT Dani Beau experienced first hand how these insects got their name, as they were both bitten throughout the course of the episode. Beau was the first one to get bitten, which happened on the bottom of her foot.

“It seriously feels like someone took a wide gauge needle and just shoved it through your bone,” Beau said. “How can something so small hurt so bad?”

Named for its extremely painful sting that has been compared to being shot with a firearm, bullet ants can get up to over an inch long and have the appearance of wingless wasps. The sting’s pain can last for up to 24 hours, and is currently the highest rated on the insect pain scale known as Schmidt’s Sting Pain Index. So obviously trying to do things like sleep, which is vital for having the energy for survival, is no fun.

“I’m not gonna be able to sleep if this is what it’s gonna feel like the whole night,” Beau said, describing once more the pain she was feeling. “It feels like someone took a hammer and smashed my left foot into a thousand pieces, and then I stepped on charcoal.”

Beau was able to battle through the pain, and decided she would avoid any future ant stings on her feet by cleverly making some shoes. In hindsight she probably should have made some gloves for her partner as well, because Calderon was also bitten in his hand by a bullet ant not long after Beau’s bite.

“Man, it’s like pulsating,” Calderon said. “It’s so swollen I can barely bend it. This hurts like hell.”

Calderon also managed to get through the pain and both of them made it the full 21 days to extraction. But they will probably both be avoiding bullet ants and anything else from the ant family in the near future.

Naked and Afraid airs Sundays at 8:00 p.m. on Discovery.

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